Twitter: GeoffShac
Writing And Videos
  • Playing Through: Modern Golf's Most Iconic Players and Moments
    Playing Through: Modern Golf's Most Iconic Players and Moments
    by Jim Moriarty
  • Tommy's Honor: The Story of Old Tom Morris and Young Tom Morris, Golf's Founding Father and Son
    Tommy's Honor: The Story of Old Tom Morris and Young Tom Morris, Golf's Founding Father and Son
    by Kevin Cook
  • His Ownself: A Semi-Memoir (Anchor Sports)
    His Ownself: A Semi-Memoir (Anchor Sports)
    by Dan Jenkins
  • The Captain Myth: The Ryder Cup and Sport's Great Leadership Delusion
    The Captain Myth: The Ryder Cup and Sport's Great Leadership Delusion
    by Richard Gillis
  • The Ryder Cup: Golf's Grandest Event – A Complete History
    The Ryder Cup: Golf's Grandest Event – A Complete History
    by Martin Davis
  • A Life Well Played: My Stories
    A Life Well Played: My Stories
    by Arnold Palmer
  • Harvey Penick: The Life and Wisdom of the Man Who Wrote the Book on Golf
    Harvey Penick: The Life and Wisdom of the Man Who Wrote the Book on Golf
    by Kevin Robbins
  • Teeing Off: Players, Techniques, Characters, and Reflections from a Lifetime Inside the Game
    Teeing Off: Players, Techniques, Characters, and Reflections from a Lifetime Inside the Game
    by Ken Bowden

The caddie in golf occupies a position accorded to the attendants in no other game and paralleled only by the relationship of squire to knight in the lists.  ROBERT BROWNING

 

  

Wednesday
Jul152009

Where Are The Clippings?

I figured it was my back going out or the raging ear infection that kept me from compiling daily clippings. After all, early week at the Open usually translates to loads of fun coverage on top of the traditional semi-news, slightly manufactured rows like Monty-Lyle.

But then a friend left a message wondering what percentage of stories I thought were about Tiger (he's not going to be hitting driver much!) or Padraig (he's got it all under control!) or Monty (he's not talking...sort of!). I'm liking 60-20-20 on the percentage breakdown.

And as this person noted--again, my ailments and odd predilection for news about major course setup getting in the way--why isn't anyone writing about the course setup or changes? As usual, we folks at home have to wait for the telecast to gauge just how the course is prepared and how it might play.

Which is odd when you are talking about a course no one has seen since 1994, which has undergone major changes under the R&A's supervision and which early reports suggested could get silly if the wind blows. And it all just happens to be a lot more interesting than most other rota members.

The Golf Channel and their in-studio team along with Frank Nobilo at Turnberry had this angle covered for us in the States by focusing on several key holes and the potential for disaster at No. 16.

Either way, mercifully they tee it up in a few hours at lovely Turnberry. If that doesn't generate some clippings worthy coverage...we're doomed.

Wednesday
Jul152009

Monty: "I've decided to say nothing" but since you asked...

Peter Dixon features Euro Tour chief George O'Grady's overwhelmingly supportive statement on behalf of Monty after Sandy Lyle's remarks and this from Monty.

“I've had time to digest it and I've decided to say nothing,” he said.

You know I respect that. He wants to put this to rest and, wait, what? Oh...

“I don't think his comments warrant comment. I've come here to play golf and have been hit with this. Just because he is disappointed not to be made captain, please don't take it out on me.”

Okay that's it. Controversy ende...what. He talked to Lawrenson too?

'It has to affect whatever friendship we had, doesn't it?' he said. 'I just think it is so sad after I had supported his candidacy to be Ryder Cup captain through the whole process. Why does he feel the need to take it out on me? Is it my fault that the committee decided that they would like a younger man?'

Asked if it had ended any chance of Lyle being a vice-captain, Monty replied: 'I think you know the answer to that one.'

Wednesday
Jul152009

"We enjoyed ourselves on Sunday doing what you do on links courses."

Too often these player diaries read like something dictated to their agent, but Justin Rose not only talks about his links golf preparation, but candidly reveals a split with his coach.

Wednesday
Jul152009

"The board believes this measure will encourage players to play more often"

I'm not usually the cynical type (as you know), but Wednesday's announced change to the Official World Golf Ranking could be seen as timed to be lost in the haze of Open Championship preview stories...well, Tiger Woods preview stories.

Doug Ferguson explains what seems to be an admission that the system so vital to determining major championship fields was seriously flawed.

The formula is based on ranking points earned at each tournament, divided by the number of tournaments played. The value of points are gradually reduced every 13 weeks over a two-year period, with a minimum divisor of 40 tournaments.

That helped Tiger Woods, who doesn’t play 40 times over a two-year period. It hurt players like Singh, who was playing as many as 60 tournaments during that period. Despite winning nine times in 2004, he didn’t overtake Woods at No. 1 until late in the season.

The change is relatively simple.

The maximum divisor will be a player’s most recent 52 tournaments – no matter how many he has played in the two-year period. The board decided on that number because it is the average number of tournaments played by the top 200 players in the world.

The board also was concerned that players were skipping tournaments at key times in the year because a lower divisor might help their ranking when trying to qualify for World Golf Championships and some of the majors.

Wednesday
Jul152009

“She did a horrible job. It’s a really sad thing what her regime did for this great group of unbelievably talented ladies.”

Alan Bastable tracks down The Donald and he has nothing but bad things to say about the Brand Lady. What's astonishing is that we know the ADT story Bastable shares from Donald is true, and yet she kept her job for another 8 months!

“This has nothing to do with her being male or female,” he said. “This has to do with bad business decisions and bad business people and people who were absolutely not equipped to handle that job.”

Trump also refutes the notion that her demise was triggered by the recession.

“A tremendous step backward was taken [by the LPGA] over the past couple of years, and it’s not because of the economy,” Trump said. “What happened was that in bad times, she pushed too hard.”

Wednesday
Jul152009

"So I'm restricted by the rules of the R&A that I can't play anymore after 60 if I don't qualify."

Tom Watson's entire press conference is worth a read, but just a few highlights. Gosh it's nice to read someone who isn't worried about upsetting a manufacturer.

MARTIN PARK: What kind of changes have you seen over the years since you've been coming back here?

TOM WATSON: Well, the changes are directly related to the equipment.

Zing!

I know he's told this tale before, but I still think it's interesting:

I didn't fall in love with links golf, though, until really 1979, honestly. The luck of the bounce and the sideway bounces, I didn't like that. I didn't like it at all, even though I won two Opens before I I told myself in '79 at Royal Lytham, I said, You can't fight this. If you're going to fight this, you're never going to truly be a great success out here at it.

And I took it and I said, Well, you know, you've got to roll with the punches, as they say in boxing. And that's what I did. I didn't play very well in '79, but at least I rolled with the punches finally, and in '80, '82 and '83 I won.

And this is beautiful:

Q. In what ways do you think today's equipment has made it easier to play links golf compared to the 1970s?

TOM WATSON: Just a distance factor, the straightness of the ball. The ball goes through the wind better, just that, which is a lot. If I were commissioner for a day or if were commissioner for ten years, I would do three things; I would roll the golf ball back 10 percent. The golf ball, we've exceeded the distance it should be going. I'd get rid of square grooves, and they're going to do that in the States. And the other thing is I would reduce the size of the head of the driver, say you can't have it 460; you can have it 240 or 250, and that's it.

Has anybody here taken an old persimmon head driver and hit it recently? I couldn't hit the sweet spot if it saved my butt. No way I could hit the sweet spot. They have that big old thing about like that (indicating), and you swing it as hard as you can, and if you mishit it off center it still goes out there. It makes you sloppy. The bigheaded clubs make you a little sloppy.

That's what I would do. But is it going to be done? No. Square grooves, yes. But rolling back the golf ball, probably not. And the bigheaded driver, probably not.

I was intrigued by this because he's actually reminding us that there are ways in which the old grooves made the game a little easier...sometimes.

Q. You referenced square grooves. Greg Norman came in before, and he said that he's looking forward to this tournament, but he's really looking to next year because the square groove rule will be in place, that essentially it will level the playing field. I don't know how much thought you've given to that.

TOM WATSON: It's going to be interesting to see how the square grooves work. I was playing with Brent Snedeker today, and he said, Out of the rough I couldn't hit the ball very far. In fact, I hit it shorter out of the rough from what used to be a flatter lie, with the square grooves. I hit it shorter with a wedge and 9iron, in particular, than off a normal lie. You would think just the opposite; you'd still hit the ball farther.

And now he's playing with the nonsquare grooves and he's hitting the ball kind of the way he thought well, he used to. You get that extra distance from the rough. And a lot of times that was to an advantage.

I remember when square grooves came out, you had an advantage. You hit the ball a little bit in the rough right there you had 178 yards uphill into the wind, you could hit that little flier up there and it was a lot easier shot. You'd say a 6iron flier uphill and it was like a 4iron from the fairway uphill. And that's how we used to have to play.

So there's some guesswork, but we knew it was going to happen. We didn't know how much it was going to happen. It could go you could hit a jumper that went 10 yards farther, you could hit a jumper that goes 30 or 40 yards farther. And how does it know? You don't know.

Love this.

Q. I presume it's health reasons that caused you to play this championship intermittently in the past few years. Have you given any thought to how much longer you might play as a past champion?

TOM WATSON: I'm restricted to age 60, which comes up in September, so I'll be playing St. Andrews. That will be my last Open Championship, unless I play well at St. Andrews or play well here and maybe have a sixth championship under my belt after Sunday. Now, that would be a story, wouldn't it? (Laughter.) You almost had that story last year with Greg Norman.
So I'm restricted by the rules of the R&A that I can't play anymore after 60 if I don't qualify.

Gee, you don't think he's just a tad sour about the whole age limit thing? As he should be.

Wednesday
Jul152009

"We have got fairways that are defined by the width of the bunkers on this golf course. They're not narrow."

Not the most scintillating R&A press conference Wednesday (though we are getting HD next year!), but at least questions were asked...unlike the U.S. Open session this year.

Peter Dawson on the setup:

On the point about the rough, the rough is very heavy here, as it is in all the links courses I've visited recently in Scotland and England; it's been that sort of growing season. We have got fairways that are defined by the width of the bunkers on this golf course. They're not narrow. They haven't been narrowed or widened. We have cut a little bit more semirough and second cut of rough totaling ten metres all together between the two sides of heavy rough. So we do think that the target area from the tee is adequate.

Obviously if we do get very strong winds, which at this time are not forecast, but if we do get very strong winds, that narrows the target. Hitting the fairways is going to be a premium this week. All the players have commented on how good they think the setup is, all the players I've spoken to, anyway. And I think we're very happy with it.

I'm looking forward to the telecast because the aerial flyovers ESPN posted on their preview show sure didn't look wide to me. Maybe the camera subtracts 10 yards of fairway.

Q. A decision about inclusion of golf in the Olympics is due to be made in the autumn, I understand. Is it likely that the scandal which happened yesterday will impact all that?

Are you kidding? Oh sorry, answer please Peter:

PETER DAWSON: Well, we're going to hear about golf in the Olympics and the decision on it, first of all, midAugust, when we'll know if golf is one of the recommended short lists, and then finally in October when it's voted on.

I don't think what Sandy Lyle has said this week will have any bearing on it whatsoever. The IOC are a pretty professional operation.

Alright let's not get carried away.

Q. Just sort of an interest going back to the pairings, how tempted were you to put Monty out with the Woods group and all those cameras?

Oy vey. Sorry, I interrupted again.

PETER DAWSON: As I say, there are many factors you take into account when you do a group.

Wednesday
Jul152009

"Talk about sticky wickets."

Final mop-up of the Lyle-Monty row includes this tough take from Steve Elling on the timing of the story.

Two highly respected European golf writers interviewed Lyle last week at the Scottish Open. During the broad conversation, Lyle made his unflattering characterization of Monty. Afterward, since it was a busy sports week in the U.K., the writers agreed not to publish the story until the British Open began, because they knew it always causes a stir whenever the word "cheating" and golf are associated. Last week, during an important cricket test match, it would have gotten buried in the sports section.

Talk about sticky wickets.

For UK readers, Lawrence Donegan posts the Jakartagate video.

And there was this classic Peter Alliss quote as reported by Mark Reason:

"It's a fact that if you're known as a cheat in golf, golfers ostracise you. You can be a womaniser, you don't pay your taxes, a whiff of BO – but he cheats at golf, oh Colombus, we don't want him in the club."

Wednesday
Jul152009

"Sharply Divided"

My Golf World story on the Sharp Park saga has been posted at GolfDigest.com. I'll take a closer look next week when the Open is behind us. But in the meantime, would love to hear your thoughts.

Wednesday
Jul152009

''I shouldn't say this, but I have to be Trump"

Mark Wogenrich profiles Trump National Bedminster on the eve of hosting the boys and girls U.S. Junior Amateur.

Is the place U.S. Open-worthy? You decide.

Trump already has.

''I shouldn't say this, but I have to be Trump,'' he said. ''I know Bethpage [site of this year's U.S. Open] better than anybody. I've played it hundreds and hundreds of times. Honestly, these courses are better. That's not politically correct, but I don't care.''

Hundreds and hundreds of times eh?

Tuesday
Jul142009

XM Radio Open Championship Preview

Peter Kessler has me on his XM radio show Wednesday morning along with others to talk about the Open Championship. I believe you can hear the show at 10 a.m. EST/7 a.m PST by going to PGATour.com and accessing the XM radio link on the homepage.

Tuesday
Jul142009

"It was like watching a one-act French farce."

For the backstory on Lyle v. Monty (and Jakarta in particular), check out John Huggan's column.

Dan Jenkins has already found his Twitter groove and tells you all you need to know about Lyle's apology.

Sandy Lyle says he's sorry for suggesting that Monty cheated years ago. Then he suggested that Monty cheated years ago.

Karl MacGinty files an entertaining account of Lyle's "train wreck" of a hastily arranged news conference to clarify the remarks.

Montgomerie spent much of yesterday out of public view and cancelled plans to attend the Annual Golf Writers banquet last night, but he was tracked down by reporters at Turnberry during the afternoon.

“I don't want to say much at all,” the Ryder Cup captain said. “It hasn't much to do with me. It's all Sandy. I found it a rather strange apology. I have read it and am digesting it. I will let you know when I have digested it further.

“I have come here to try to compete in The Open and my preparations have been slightly dented. I'm not very happy about that at all. I found it a very strange apology, to be honest, and you'll be hearing from me later on.”

We will be here for you Monty when you are ready to continue this glorious spat.

Phillip Reid adds this detail about the timing of the story and Lyle's actual remarks Tuesday:

Lyle’s original comments – to two journalists last Friday during the Scottish Open at Loch Lomond, but which were only published in British national papers yesterday – referred to an incident in the Indonesian Open in Jakarta in 2005 where video evidence indicated Montgomerie had taken an incorrect drop after a rain delay.

After reading his statement, Lyle partook in a QA session in which he expanded on the issues and, basically, backed up his original comments. Of the drop in Indonesia, which he reminded everyone was “all on video, it’s not like I’m prefabricating (sic)”, Lyle expanded: “It was a pretty poor drop. And it was one of his mistakes. I didn’t make him do that mistake, it was his mistake. And it will probably live with him for the rest of his life; it’ll be cropping up. I can’t do anything against that.”

Lyle, a former US Masters and British Open champion, added: “I’m only trying to protect myself when I got called a quitter and (accused of) walking off the golf course when I’ve got a legitimate hand injury . . . my decision was legit and I’ve got X-rays at home to prove (it).”

Peter Dixon features a statement from Monty's agent and suggests that "legal action could be considered."

Mike Aitken clarifies whether Lyle faces a fine and paints this picture of Monty's day.

There was no immediate reaction from the European Tour to the original attack, but it's expected Lyle will be disciplined for his comments, bearing in mind the Tour's regulations stipulate "it's an obligation of membership to refrain from comments to the media that attack, disparage or criticise tournament sponsors or promoters, fellow competitors, the European Tour or its officials."

And...

On leaving the practice range, he was asked if he had any reaction to Lyle's remarks. "Nothing to say on the comments, nothing to say at all," he replied initially. When told Lyle had apologised, the Ryder Cup captain simply shrugged his shoulders.

He walked back to the clubhouse at a brisk lick where, coincidentally, Lyle was registering. Lyle seemed to try and catch Monty's eye, but by now the possibility of a rapprochement between the giants of Scottish golf was slight. Montgomerie went into the club shop to peruse a paper copy of Lyle's remarks while the older man left through another door. It was like watching a one-act French farce.

Tuesday
Jul142009

"The American broadcaster is required to take the world feed"

Michael Walker gets confirmation that the BBC is to blame for the lack of HD Open Championship coverage.

Tuesday
Jul142009

"Goodness gracious, we left here for the British Open, changed to a small ball, used seven clubs from a different manufacturer, changed in a day and went and played the tournament"

Steve Elling talks to Jack Nicklaus about player complaints related to the burden of changing to new grooves next year, and reminds us that he had to change balls and clubs for the Open.

"The guys are talking about, 'We don’t have enough time to practice enough with these new V grooves for next year,'" Nicklaus said recently. "'Are we going to have enough time to really get ourselves ready?'"

Nicklaus believes the adjustments won’t prove much more than a tiny bit difficult. After all, he made them every year and won three British Open titles.

"Goodness gracious, we left here for the British Open, changed to a small ball, used seven clubs from a different manufacturer, changed in a day and went and played the tournament," he said.
Now many associated with the tour are wringing their hands because years of lead time players and clubmakers have had to prep for the rule change -- the proposal was first floated by the USGA in 2005 -- isn’t enough time to make a smooth transition?

"'Is really another year enough for us to get used to it?'" Nicklaus said, parroting the current question. "That’s how long it takes -- it takes a day or two to get used to equipment.

Tuesday
Jul142009

"I can’t deal with that woman"

Beth Ann Baldry and Gene Yasuda talk to various folks tied to the LPGA Tour and get all sorts of interesting feedback about Carolyn Bivens.

Laura Davies recently asked a sponsor whom she considers a longtime friend whether the company pulled out because of financial difficulties.

“He said, ‘No, our business is great. I can’t deal with that woman,’ ” Davies said.

Katherine Hull tells a similar story from a conversation she had with tournament staff from another long-standing tournament.

“They said, ‘As long as Carolyn is commissioner of the LPGA, we will not sign a contract,’ ” Hull said.

Tuesday
Jul142009

Schmidt Loses Amateur Status Case Against USGA

From the wire:

Representing himself in court on Monday, Schmidt made an emotional appeal, borrowing from amateur great Bobby Jones: "There is golf and there is competitive golf and the two are entirely different things."
Schmidt said he entered an inferred or implied contract with the USGA when he applied for his amateur status and paid a $125 fee.

But Lee Abrams, an attorney representing the USGA, claimed that any contract was essentially completed when Schmidt was granted his amateur status.

Mosman, while prefacing his ruling by saying "a part of my heart always roots for the underdog," turned down the request because Schmidt's status did not meet the legal threshold of a contract.

Schmidt is proceeding with an appeal of his status through the USGA. He could also pursue other aspects of his legal complaint, but he said Monday he has not decided whether he will do that.

I suppose the USGA would take their time with his application if he reapplied for his amateur status?

Tuesday
Jul142009

What Would The PGA Tour Gain...

...by taking over the LPGA Tour, as was mentioned in Sirak's story on the leadership changes?

I can think of a few positives and negatives, but I'd love to hear what you all think of this idea.

Tuesday
Jul142009

“We did it about three weeks ago because we did not want to give the impression that the Open is about hacking out of rough"

An unbylined Times piece on Tiger's first practice round contained this insight into the R&A's widening out of the Turnberry rough.

Dawson confirmed that the first cut of rough had been widened to about six metres instead of five. “We did it about three weeks ago because we did not want to give the impression that the Open is about hacking out of rough,” he said.

Can't wait to see what a difference that extra meter makes.

Tuesday
Jul142009

“What happened over the course of the last 10 days at the L.P.G.A. is cyclical"

That's our Brand Lady! But before we get to her comments exclusive to the New York Times' William Rhoden, let's consider who she picked to talk to. Wisely I might add in admiration, as Rhoden has proven to have no clue about golf (I say that someone who enjoys his baseball and basketball writing).

You may recall it was Rhoden who wrote about Trevor Immelman's only case of nerves coming down the stretch at Augusta to be his 17th hole tee shot landing in the fairway bunker. Immelman had hit it in the water on the hole before and of course there is no fairway bunker on the 17th.

Anyway, today he lands what appears to be the only interview with Carolyn Bivens and he weaves quite the tale of woe. Before we get to that though, I did notice that in listing her screw-ups in the print edition, he referred to "Twittering during matches." Someone wisely changed the online edition to "competitions." Rhoden also refers to Bivens as "a consummate businesswoman and dealmaker" before revealing that she's leaving the tour in shambles.

But let's get to the good stuff.

Although Bivens’s resignation may provide short-term satisfaction, the long-term effect could force the L.P.G.A. into chaos at the worst possible time.

The next commissioner will inherit an organization that competes in a catastrophic economy, an organization that has lost sponsors, had purses reduced and had one of its greatest stars, Annika Sorenstam, retire. The L.P.G.A. also announced that Sorenstam, who won 10 major tournaments, would be an adviser to its board of directors.

The forced resignation of the organization’s first female commissioner is a pronouncement about the perils of competing for dollars in a male-dominated sports landscape and the pitfall of leading an organization in which players have too much control over areas where they have limited expertise.

Oh really? Did the players upset longtime sponsors and negotiate with them in ways that made them want to close up shop?

The Brand Lady says so. And this is just cyclical!

"What happened over the course of the last 10 days at the L.P.G.A. is cyclical,” Bivens said. “We have a governance issue. How we are run and the constitution of the L.P.G.A. is a problem, not just for me, not just for the former commissioners, but for current and former board members.

“Being an active player and trying to govern an organization don’t go together,” she said. “They are absolutely counterintuitive. They fight each other.”

It is amazing how common sense stuff like wanting to play as much as possible gets in the way of vision.

For a different take, Bill Fields gets to the point in this week's Golf World after pointing out that Deane Beman wasn't exactly loved either:

A commissioner doesn't have to be loved, but he or she must be respected. Beman's shrewd business mind and his often brusque style co-existed with a golf soul that Bivens never showed she possesses. As Beman -- often with opposition, even from his stars -- went about modernizing and upgrading his tour the way Bivens tried to transform the LPGA, his grounding in the game was hugely important.

Tuesday
Jul142009

Clarke: Portrush Beats This!

Derek Lawrenson talks to Darren Clarke about the prospects of a Portrush hosted Open after seeing it answers all of the same questions Turnberry faced.

But, as Clarke drily points out: 'Turnberry answers all the accommodation questions, does it? With the new road (to Portrush), you're no more than 40 minutes from Belfast, where there's plenty of accommodation. There's plenty of room around the course for tented villages and so on, while the new tees mean that the course is plenty tough enough.'

Hill believes the venue could not cope with more than 15,000 people walking round it each day but Clarke doesn't buy that argument either.

'The bottom line is we're talking about a links course as good as any in the world, where the arguments against are less strong than they are for the return of Turnberry,' he said.